Lens produces 3-D images of cells, tissues in seconds

Scientists at the University of Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences are creating a confocal lens that displays 3-D images within cells and tissues while showing the whole organism within seconds rather than hours.

An image, captured by the Mesolens, of a human flea
An image, captured by the Mesolens, of a human flea

Scientists at the University of Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (Glasgow, Scotland) are creating a confocal lens that displays 3-D images within cells and tissues while showing the whole organism within seconds rather than hours. Not possible with any single imaging device until now, the team's work could dramatically speed drug development.

The lens—dubbed the Mesolens—will be able to capture detail in organisms that are too big to be examined satisfactorily by existing microscopes, and will offer a deeper insight into areas such as cancerous tissues and the cortex of the brain.

An image, captured by the Mesolens, of a human fleaAn image, captured by the Mesolens, of a human flea
An image, captured by the Mesolens, of a human flea. (Image courtesy of the Medical Research Council)

The team's confocal lens can be trained simultaneously on or inside an individual cell and the full organism, with strong resolution, and will have the capacity to deliver 3-D images that go far beyond the limitations of 2-D representations, says Dr. Brad Amos, a visiting scientist at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, who is also Emeritus Research Group Leader in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Cambridge, England) and a Fellow of the Royal Society in London.

Funding for the work comes from the MRC and a Knowledge Transfer Account from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and the team is working with the University’s Research & Knowledge Exchange Services to commercialize it.

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